Rabat – Proving once again that the Trump travel ban is not cast in stone, Hawaii district judge, Derrick Watson, has ruled that grandparents can now be excluded from the ban.
Calling the government’s definition of family “the antithesis of common sense,” Watson wrote that “Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents. Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members.”
The blocked travel ban was partially lifted last month by the conservative-majority Supreme Court. The ban targets six predominantly Muslim countries including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The partially lifted ban specified that no one from these six countries would be admitted to the US unless he or she could prove a “bona fide” pre-existing familial or proven tie.
The government’s definition of family excluded grandparents, brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, uncles and aunts, and cousins. Upon examination, Judge Watson determined that the government’s position was “unduly restrictive” and ruled that grandparents can no longer be barred.
Hawaii Attorney General, Douglas Chin, approves of the Watson ruling, saying that “Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough. Courts have found that this Executive Order has no basis in stopping terrorism and is just a pretext for illegal and unconstitutional discrimination.”
Watson’s ruling also has broader implications for refugees who faced a 120 ban when the Trump executive order was partially lifted. Now, refugees with an existing family tie will be eligible for entry, as well as any refugee being sponsored by a resettlement agency.
According to Chin, “An assurance from a United States refugee resettlement agency… is formal, it is a documented contract, it is binding… bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that.”
The initial executive order was signed by US President Donald Trump in January, citing concerns over national security. It was met with immediate opposition, sparking national outrage and international condemnation amid accusations of being an anti-Muslim piece of legislation.
Calling it “water-down,” Trump tabled a new version of the bill in March which was also blocked by the lower courts, prompting Trump to appeal to the Supreme Court to have the block lifted.
In June, he got his wish when the Supreme Court voted to impose the ban at least partially until it reconvenes in October to make its final ruling.